If you hadn't realised already, this was an April Fool's Day joke, courtesy of Cleveland Bridge

A DARLINGTON company has been working on a ground-breaking bridge innovation using disused oil rigs to create a new Cross Channel connection.

As part of the project, Clevelend Bridge are finalising plans for the multi-billion pound ‘Project Rapid Access-North-sea Crossing’ connecting Ramsgate in Kent with Ostend in Belgium, to counter fears of post-Brexit log-jam affecting the UK’s main south coast entry points of Dover to Calais.

The Darlington-based firm will design and fabricate 52 miles worth of modular steel-built decking capable of supporting a four-lane highway.

Once completed, it will become the world’s longest bridge – dwarfing the 30-mile Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah Causeway, scheduled to open to traffic later this year.

The decks of the new Channel crossing will be connected to strategically located decommissioned oil platforms.

The platforms will be towed into their final position from the Forties oil field, 111 miles east of Scotland, and from the Norwegian-based Ekofisk field, 200 miles west of Stavanger.

The platforms, many of which were constructed in the 1970s and early 1980s, still meet stringent design and safety specifications and have the capacity to support the weight of the decking and traffic and deal with challenges of the North Sea.

They will be anchored to the floor of the Channel at a height which allows shipping to pass freely below. According to Government requirements, two sections of roadway will have the capacity to be raised in the event of any over-sized ships using the sea lanes.

Cleveland Bridge has signed a confidentiality clause and is not at liberty to reveal the details of the contract but can confirm it is of significant value.

The sea bridge will be similar in design to one completed in 2012 which crosses the vast River Plate estuary between Punta Indio in Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay.

A delegation of engineers visited Argentina to learn from their counterparts involved in the construction of the much shorter ‘El Tonto de Abril’ bridge.

A spokesperson for the company said: “This bridge will provide an alternate artery to Europe to support the flow of goods and people, while also addressing considerable sustainability and recycling challenges by using these redundant oil platforms to create a vital new link with the Continent.”